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Thaksin calls for early polls

P.S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: Thailand's deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was disenfranchised as a political leader in a court ruling in Bangkok on Wednesday night, has urged the military junta to "hold general elections as soon as possible".

With Mr. Thaksin's dismayed Thai Rak Thai Party deciding to stay "calm" and refrain from staging any mass protest, the situation remained peaceful across the country. With the overnight judgment being followed by a Buddhist celebration on Thursday, the overall mood across Thailand remained one of apparent introspection.

Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin and his Council for National Security (CNS) stepped up the security alert. Unprecedented security arrangements had been put in place across Thailand on Wednesday at the time of the judgment that was delivered over nine hours.

Mr. Thaksin, in a post-verdict statement from London, his home in self-imposed exile, said on Thursday he would "as party leader, humbly accept the ruling".

His statement was read out in Bangkok by a spokesman.

The Constitutional Court had, in a unanimous judgment, found Mr. Thaksin and his party guilty of the charges of electoral fraud.

The case relates to the allegations that the party had funded some small and rootless parties to contest the general election in April last year. The then Opposition Democrat Party had boycotted the poll. The Court ordered the immediate dissolution of Thai Rak Thai on the ground that it "is not a genuine party with any ideology".

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